Safety is not our goal.
As Pastor Scott shared his heart on Sunday as it related to Jacob’s experience in Genesis 31 of obeying God’s call to pick up his life and sojourn back to the land of his fathers, the truth that the Christian life is one of risk and adventure hit home.
Moving into the unknown isn’t always a comfortable thing. Whether it’s a new job, new school, new house, or new city, those kinds of changes typically bring stress and uncertainty. We wonder, “Will I be able to handle it?” or “What if things don’t work out the way I want them to?”
But there’s another kind of risk and uncertainty in the lives of Christians — or at least there should be: Our roles as missionaries. Of course, those who’ve chosen mission work as a vocation certainly face risk and uncertainty on a daily basis, particularly if they live in a country and culture that’s different from what they’ve known all their lives. However, even if we’re not “professional” missionaries, as Christians we still have mission fields to work in — and that’s part of what makes the Christian life so exciting.
After Pastor Scott’s reminder to live life with abandon — particularly when it comes to our roles as missionaries — I find myself challenged and spurred on to ask, “How often do I ask God who he’s placed in my life today? Much of my day-to-day time — and I’m sure all of us can relate in one way or another — is spent moving from one task to the next; one problem to solve to the next problem to solve; one hill to climb after another hill to climb.
But what might happen when I’m reminded to say to the Lord — as Jacob did — “here I am”? In my own experience, I don’t ever recall God not responding affirmatively if I pray, “Father, I’m open today to whatever and whoever you bring on my path. Help me to open up and be sensitive to others’ needs — and put the words in my mouth so that they may see you.” But again, how often am I open and willing to put my own list of things to do behind what God might have me do? Certainly not often enough!
Indeed, as Pastor Scott shared, we are pilgrims, sojourners, and strangers in this world. As Christians, our priorities and the way we live our lives mean we’ll never truly fit in — and that can be difficult. Sometimes it can even feel lonely and disappointing.
But there’s another side as well: the adventure! Think about something as simple as having a conversation about the Lord with a complete stranger you meet in a store or in the gym or at a park. Now maybe even reading that last sentence feels a little uncomfortable. (Confession: It’s a little uncomfortable for me to write it!) But on the other hand, how cool is it be open to such conversations, not as a once-in-a-while thing, but as a lifestyle? Imagine waking up every day and praying, “Lord, I don’t know what you’re going to do today, but I’m open — give me the words to say and people to say them to.” Then just watch what happens next.
Safety is not our goal. Comfort is not our goal. But a hum-drum life filled with no risks, no adventure, and no out-and-out joy that God can bring when we’re open to him is not our goal, either. So today, let it be your prayer (and my prayer) to have the Lord help us to take risks in his name and according to his will. To reach out beyond ourselves and our daily cares, knowing that he wants us a whole lot more than he wants stuff crossed off a list.
And always remember that as God promised Jacob — and Jesus promised all of us — “I will be with you.”